6232/The Minstrel's Ballad: Gaius's Ambition(4)

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The Minstrel's Ballad: Gaius's Ambition(4)
Date of Scene: 09 January 2019
Location: Shrine of Adversity
Synopsis: The thrilling conclusion of the Minstrel's Tale of the downfall of Gaius van Baelsar.
Cast of Characters: 6843, N'raha Tia, Athela Valemore, Inga, Tomoe, 1149

Zenos yae Galvus (6843) has posed:
Once more, you have all gathered for the tale of the Ultima Weapon, and how the bane of the Black Wolf had taken down the dreaded Gaius van Balser.  The Minstrel sits on his stool, strumming as you enter.  Tables are there, food is ready...drink is passed around.  

The music starts, as he starts the final part of this Ballad.  There is a sense of finality to it, the air itself is so tense that one might think that Odin had appeared in the Shroud again.  Everything is still, as those other than you listen, enraptured by the song.

'Come my friends, gather around for a tale of a would-be crown.
When our hero, protector of the realm
Now must battle the Alag's strength
Tempered with the strength of grace
Imbued with fire's embrace
Strengthed with earth's base.
But also tainted with shadow's efface
Light doth waiver, but will it falter?'

'Standing down full of the Ruler's Might
Staring up, full of desperate plight
Gambit unleashed
Mother Hydelyn spent
Only the strength of a hero
Can keep the Realm at peace.'

The light clears.  

The entire area is devastated, magical energy is radiating everywhere, burning the earth like a wildfire.  Your area is protected, and then the Ultimate weapon changes.  Glowing with that same light of Ultima, it glows light green and gold, as it arches back.  Two wings of the same light as before spring from it back as it prepares itself.

"Gaius, our enemy shield is broken, I leave the rest to you.."

"Such devastation...I did not wish such a thing.." a stunned Gaius says taken aback, and then angry, "We shall have words later, Ascian...but for now, the question of who is stronger remain.  Come, warriors of light...let us find the answer to that together!"

As the story draws you in, the battlefield around you is a blasted twisted land, the fighting had destoryed much of its natural splendor, and all around you the Empire weapons that had been brought to bear against you and the Primals now lay blackened and burning.  The Heart of Sabik having had done its terrible work with its magic seemingly otherworldly.  The power of Ultima did in fact, make the earth quiver and quake.  

It glows, not just as the black ominous creature it was when you first came in, but this four-legged thing glowed with a strange light, after having gorged on the primal.  You can FEEL their power and aether trapped in there, under the domination of the monster.  

In fact, as it charges it does unleash it.  Each hand sends a beam of light across the ground towards Athela and Inga, the ground tearing up as the beam threatens to cut through them.  Tomoe and Raha are forced to deal with something else.  As Ifrit appeared, immediately crouching and charging the both of them, leaving a trail of flames behind it.

Krusty could see on the edge of the field of battle, that Titan had appeared, and brought it's hand up, slamming it into the ground, as the very ground attempted to shift, and UPHEAVE them into the air, before aiming to smash them back into the ground.

"Tell me, Warrior of light.  Where are the Twelve now?!  WHERE ARE THEY?!"

N'raha Tia has posed:
    Well this is... less than optimal. And once again, NOT HOW HE REMEMBERS IT.

    That said, N'raha at least knowws the response to Gaius' question. "We don't need the Twelve to stop you, Gaius. You, the Ascian, or your weapon." He snarls, lowers the visor on his helmet... and then-

    Ambushed by Ifrit. How in the blazes is it here? Didn't the Weapon eat the damn thing? He barely brings up his axe in time to smash at the charging Ifrit. There's a flareover of energy though. While the shield of Hydaelyn might be broken, the soul of the Chosen is not. "No. NO THIS IS NOT HAPPENING, GAIUS." He turns in place, and CHARGES at Ultima Weapon, leaping up on one of it's legs, planting his feet and swinging for the hills with his axe.

Athela Valemore has posed:
Athela sighs softly as, despite the concern in his voice over the unexpected devestation caused by the weapon, Gaius still stubbornly refuses to relent and turns on them to force continuing the fight. Stubborn ambition does truely blind this man it seems. There is no other option at this point.

A scowl of determination follows, cloak briefly flaring behind the young knight as she moves into action. "So be it."

Even as the monstrousity begins to move Athela has already whipped herself back into motion, a wash of water rippling in her wake as she uses her aquamancy to give herself a boost. It allows her to veer to the side as the beam is fired towards her, but not out of the ray's proximity and she can still feel the sting of the energy it carries just from being so damn close to it. "Focus on the primary threat!"

As she closes in Athela releases another burst of elemental energy, this time using it to launch herself off the ground towards the horrific warmachine, swinging her sword in an upward slash as she does so. "Have at ye!"

Inga has posed:
Here they are, dropped right back into the story where they left off--staring down the maw of a great, mechanical creature created to destroy. This is the climax of the story. The music has come to a blinding crescendo.

Before Inga can even get a hold of the situation she's being attacked. She gets a blood ward up around herself to negate some of the damage from the painful beam of light, as she does not have the reflexes to get out of the way. She stays on her feet, gritting her teeth against the pain, but her ward did it's job, and already she's beginning to heal.

She looks to Gaius, shaking her head. "You know what you have created. Now you will let us clean up your mistake!" she shouts, hurling a lightning bolt at the Weapon, the light casting her features in stark light and shadow.

She's had a dark day. She will not hold back.

Tomoe has posed:
Tomoe has returned to the bar once more to hear how this tale ends, she'd avoided the booze but enjoyed some food first. She'd met up with everyone else. She waits for the bard to get started the music starts. She takes a deep breath as he gets ready. The world comes into view and now she sees the thing before her.

The Ultimate weapon, the hulking mechanized horror of a long lost civilization is before them.

"Very well General Gaius."

She watches the very earth quiver and shakes at the things power, this thing is the embodiment of what her world's rulers and many normal people fear.

Such power in the hand of one or a few that could sunder a planet.

"God helps those who help themselves."

Tomoe notes but it's clear she does not speak of the Twelve. She's fast but not quick enough to get out of the way entirely she's caught in some of the flames, but she still stands her wings. She flies right at the ultimate weapon breaking into a savage opening combo there is no hesitation or restraint tonight with Tomoe's attacks.

"And yet General is this power your own? Or are you another's puppet being used to the ill ends of this entire world and your Empire?! Athela with me!"

Krusty (1149) has posed:
    Krusty is not here, once again waylaid by the most annoying monster of all. Paperwork.

    However, having heard the glowing recommendation by her fellow officer, Misa, the other of Krusty's Lieutenants, Rieze, has come to hear the story of the Minstrel.

    Thrown through the air by the sudden upheavel of earth, Rieze hits the ground hard and rolls a few times, before finally coming to a stop. She's still for a moment, then uses her long staff to pick herself up off the ground. She brushes a little dirt off her robes, which funnily enough look very much like those she normally wears.

    Rieze raises her staff into the air in front of her, orange magic gathering just beyond it. As she prepares her spell, she advises caution to Athela's words, "Be wary of attacks from the side. This weapon's summons appear powerful."

    The spell finishes, Rieze calming calling, "Orb of Lava." It launches towards the Ultima Weapon as an orb of burning magic that explodes against its target.

Zenos yae Galvus (6843) has posed:
"Is that desperation in your voice, Warrior of Light?" Gaius mocks Raha, "What happened to that all-consuming rage you had a moment ago, or did the might of the Ultima Weapon steal from you that as it stole the Primals their power?"

One of the arms moves to grab at Raha as he swings at one of its legs.  The claw meets axe, in a terribly unfair conest of strength, moves so that the axe just narrowly misses the leg, as the power of the Ultima weapon starts radiating even more.  

Athela, more calm and resolute lets loose a silent sigh.  She has seen ambition before, and it is true.  Gaius has ambition, and a goal...he is not an evil man, but ambition can do things to all men.  Including making pacts with metaphorical devils.  

The sword is swung down, as the elemental blast takes her up.  The other arm of the powerful war machine braces, using it's thicker armor to soften the blow.  The thing is surprisingly swift for such a large machine...but it DID also eat Garuda.  Perhaps there is something to this..?

"The only mistaken, Warrior, is your continued belief in gods who want nothing for you, but instead your prayers and crystals to summon them into the world," Gaius, says right back to Inga as she hurls her powerful spell.  However...

The gods, in fact, seem to favor her today. The lightning bolt crashes across the chest of the undefended machine.  It's arms and defenses having had been occupied with Raha and Athela.  It appears they are making a dent in it...the machine is not as invincible as it might appear to have been.

"Is a powerful blade not the power of the wielder?  Is any weapon not just in part the strength of the wielder itself?  You, a warrior, ask me such a question while standing before me?  One's who do not master strength are owned by it, I know this better than anyone.  No, I control this strength, it obeys me.  Can you say the same about the blessing of light or the power of prayer that SHE wields."

The sword Tomoe swings is defended against by the claws of the Ultima weapon as if proving his point.  The weapon moves with grace and skill, much like Gaius himself did.  Despite the weapon being an ancient war machine, he had taken steps to master the weapon...and then he did beat the three primals (albeit after you had worn them down) by himself.  While the sword damages the machine, his quick actions make it far less bad than a lesser man would have.

The woman named Rieze comes up from in front of the creature, only providing support to her comrades, instead of exchanging barbs with the man inside the armor.  It was good advice because indeed aether seemed to be pooling all around them.  Pouring from the device in front of them.  

The spell, launching an Orb of Lava smashes against the side of the Ultima Weapon, and as the spell fades, it appears that just in the nick of time a barrier was erected to defend against the magic.  The armor of the weapon still sizzles, as it turns to face the new comer.  "I see that the Warriors of Light have reinforcement.  I commend your bravery, too bad it is wasted on them."

Zenos yae Galvus (6843) has posed:
As things progressed, the machine fired a spray of missiles from it's back, these missiles spread out everywhere, before coming down and collapsing specifically on Inga and Rieze.  Explosions rock the area, but overall the attacks could be MUCH worse.

However, the two now working together, Athela and Tomoe now have their own problems.  As they get close to the Ultima weapon, there is a surge around it, before it BURSTS with Ceruleum.  In a massive shockwave around it, aiming to literally catch them regardless of how they come at it.  

However, from behind Raha, Garuda would appear on the edge of the battlefield and starts to cast a spell.  This is before a massive shockwave of wind drives through the battlefield, aiming to smash the warrior in the back and send him sprawling.  Garauda laughs, oddly, even though she is technically a summon of the Ultima weapon

This proves that you can take the Garuda out of the world, but not the crazy out of the Garuda.  Yes, people actually WORSHIP her.  The Ixal are absolutely insane.

N'raha Tia has posed:
    The Warrior of Light falters in place as he's tossed from the Ultima Weapon's leg, his attack blunted by the masterful piloting of Gaius....
    And tossed directly into the path of Garuda's attack. He's barely up to his feet when the strike hits though, and is forced to turn into the strike to even bear a chance of blunting it. He staggers and snarls, as the wind whips through him, feathers and razors cutting at him, at his flesh, burning through his armor in that ephemeral fashion of magic, and...

    Oh. Oh dear. There's a flashover of energy on the field, another RATTLE of noise as the catman slams a fist into the caked, baked soil of the Castrum. An explosion of noise, of furious rage, of distant terrible wrath. "GAIUS. You MOCK the very powers you weild, drive a piece of blasphemous Allagan trash, and speak to me of failed power?" His stance shifts, dirt kicks up from his heels, his eyes narrow behind his helmet, and he dashes forward.

    Dash is actually the wrong word. Explode. Explode is good. There's a massive shockwave of energy as the Miqo'te expends a measure of his wrath, and LEAPS at the Ultima Weapon, clearing the battlefield in an arcing jump. It's a move he's used before but it's never looked quite so stiking. Bravura sweeps, and aims to come crashing down right on that cockpit.

Inga has posed:
Inga sighs heavily. "I am done talking about gods with you. You have created this creature to destroy. You stand against those I call friend. That is all I need," she replies, her knife in one hand and her staff in the other. As the Weapon once more prepares to launch something at her, she renews the wound in her arm she uses for her blood magic and throws up a renewed ward. It is merely a sea wall however--the waves crash over it, the ward only working to prevent the full force of the damage. Again, she stays on her feet, planting her staff to help her keep her balance. While she's giving out wards...she sees Raha take a nasty hit. The familiar healing of her blood magic soon surrounds him.

Inga then turns her attention back to the Weapon. She waits for the right moment, careful of those in melee with the beast. She breathes a word that is all cold and darkness, her breath misting in the air as it escapes her lips. "Iss."

Ice rushes up around Ultima Weapon in a flash freeze.

Krusty (1149) has posed:
    Rieze maintains her cool composure at the words from Gaius. She doesn't seem to permit him a response though, as her eyes look up to track the barrage of missiles coming to rain down upon her. She quickly raises her her staff above her head and spins it, magic quickly forming a barrier of light as she announces, "Force Shield." She's engulfed in explosions of missiles.

    After the fire and smoke fades, Rieze is still standing there confidently, though he robes are showing some scorch marks and she appears to have some burns. However, she reaches into them and pulls out a small magenta-coloured potion and takes a careful drink from it. Light briefly shines around her as some of her burns fade away.

    After the potion, Rieze returns her attention to the fight. She raises her staff, magic sparks beginning to dance across it. She times the spell to activate shortly after N'Raha's strike, saying, "Thunderbolt Crash." The bolt of golden lightning streaks down from above the Ultima Weapon, aimed for the cockpit that the Miqo'te strikes.

Athela Valemore has posed:
Someone else will have to handle the heroic arguing with Gaius if they want it, Athela just isn't the sort to waste the breath in middle of a terse battle. Especially when she's pretty sure it would fall upon deaf ears. Or at least ones unwilling to hear more reason than what they have already convinced themselves up.

As soon as she rebounds off the arm's interveining defense Athela hits the ground in a three-point crouch, the other hand still gripping her weapon. But it is more than to just brace her impact. As soon as her free hand hits the ground streams of water swirl out from the point of contact and quickly rise around her until she's in the center of a watery tornado. It's against the vortex that the venting of ceruleum collides, the magitek chemical(?) vaporizing much of the watery counter. Sheer proximity ensures it's not a perfect defense as Athela is still exposed to the intense energy released by the two sources countering each other, but after seeing what it did to others in previous fights she wasn't taking her chances with direct contact.

As the remains of the attack and defense splatter to the ground around her Athela breaks back into motion, having no intent to let Gaius have a moment's rest between attacks. Their only chance is to not let the man have the time to solidfy any manner of counter-strategy, so hitting fast and hard is the way to go.

Again she draws on both the fighting spirit of her patrons and her own aquamantic abilities, Resolute Blade becoming sheathed in the energy of her element as she gripped it in both hands and readied back as she charged. This time not in a single stike, but as Athela launchs into her assault its a frenzy of chops and slashes that might at first appear to be an erratic barrage of blows.

Until one realizes that while they may come from different angles the swipes all at least cross the same point to maximize potential, the crosscutting method is just to make the epicenter of the attack less obvious to defend against.

Tomoe has posed:
Tomoe has come on stronger than he normally does as she knows how serious this fight is, and it could be a taste of what awaits those who dare to probe further in the world from with N'raha hails from. Gaius is shown to be why he was such a feared combatant the Garlean General was a monster in personal combat and could still effect things here in a fight like this. She has called Athela to her side to keep up the assault with Reize, Inga and N'Raha forming the other portion of this party they have a decent working split. The Winds come and Tomoe is hammered by the force of them red linea appear all over her body already.


Missiles are being fired at the rest of the party an exploding worse N'raha has been hit very hard and she will leap back chanting a spell as she does cause a barrage of light bolts to take flight t the ultimate weapon.

She'll keep to the air again too as she makes ready for another attack run on the Weapon.

Zenos yae Galvus (6843) has posed:
"Hmph...apparently your wrath has left you deaf," Gaius says in response to Raha.  "You, without the will to rule do not understand what it means to wield power, all you can think of is the strength of your own arm, instead of how to manage and focus it.  Strength is not just force of will, but of personality, of leadership, of knowledge and of wisdom!"

However, for all of his words, the flying buzzsaw that is Raha dives for the Cockpit.  The armor, thick by necessity as he'd be clawing through the FRONT of the machine, withstands.  However, the massive blow shakes the massive monster, as a nasty gash runs along the front of it.  

"Hmph, then prove your words with action, and not bantering, cultist!  Know, when your broken body is thrown to the ground, you will cry to your gods...and they will /forsake/ you," He responds to Inga, with a dismissive tone.

As the ice starts to run up and attempt to flash freeze the Ultima weapon, the thing moves back and forth, before another BURST of ceruleum is vented, starting to quickly counteract the ice.  It's a vicious back and forth, but even as her blood magic tries to overcome the technology of Alag...it appears for now that Alag triumphs, as the machine continues to move.  

"I see you are a woman of few words and action.  Then let us simply fight until you have been shown the error of your ways!" the man says towards Rieze, even as her force shield absorbs the majority of the Ultima's blow.  

However, lightning is hard to defend against, as lightning from the sky rains down on the machine.  It blasts through the defenses as it shakes for a moment...but then corrects itself.  Shuddering, but not falling.  The smoke from where it landed is visible, but it is not destroyed.

However, when Athela's three-point stunt dodge attracts the attention of Gaius again, he muses to himself.  "You claim to be blessed by the gods, and yet you wield your power better than many who claim to fight for their own power.  You do not hold your own abilities in as high regard as you should...a pity."

This time, as she comes up to swing, trying to keep her actions from having meaning, trying to put the man off guard...well, it appears that once more he proves himself cannier than anticipated.  The Weapon moves, using its quick speed and armor to parry blows, and its claws use the armored outer area to quickly break the attack.  

"I see, you HAVE no answer.  What are you then?  A warrior or a cur!?  Have you no pride as a warrior, or are you as hollow as your words?!  Hmph, disgraceful." Gaius says towards the unanswered questions in response to her own original bait.

The bolts of light hit the barrier that is summoned again, greatly reducing their effectiveness and seem to leave otherwise unrewarding damage.  The man in the armor says nothing, but the eyes of the beast just cast down at it...almost as if it was judging you.

Zenos yae Galvus (6843) has posed:
The machine rears back, as heat expands from each of the sides of the Ultima weapon, each of these vents are aimed at both Raha and Athela, literally trying to blow them away from the creature with the pure heat and force of releasing the internal temperature.  The creature, built as it was, was designed to even make it's temperature regulators a weapon.  Such was the terrible mind of Alag.

Unfortunately for Reize and Tomoe, Garuda would appear, as if by magic hovering near them.  with a screech, she seemed to fly up with unmeasurable speed, before feathers, countless in numbers, rained down like knives at them, attempting to impale them and leave an aetherical effect behind: Wind Burn.  

However, in front of Inga, Ifrit would appear, as it reared back, and the ground below her would shake.  The ground itself seemingly starting to look like it was to come alive before EXPLOSIONS would follow her running form.  Trying to catch her and roast her alive with fire and lava.  Apparently, Gaius is not without humor...or at least insensitive to all of the witches over the years falsely accused and burned at the stake.  

However, more importantly...the Ultima weapon was starting to store now VISIBLE qualities of Aether, glowing more and more white with each passing moment.  Those with Hint can almost see a gauge in their mind's eye.  The name on it was literally 'Ultima Aether.'  You...do not what to find out what happens when it hits one hundred, but Inga may see...

Death.  That is it, darkness.  If it finishes, there is nothing beyond that point.  The feeling of being dragged towards death may be even more unsettling.

N'raha Tia has posed:
    The catman lands with a thud, the murderous energy still slaking off of his body like a cloak. Raha's all the way now.

    Heat. Heat he can handle. Heat's a good thing, it refreshes the mind and body. That said, that's a lot of heat for Raha. He does, however, scamper out of the way quick enough to keep his tail from getting burned and singed, and instead rallies around to slide underneath the WEAPON. It's a blind spot, it's a safe spot, and it's a spot that the catman can both take a breath, as well as harass the machine. Maybe poke at something important.
    He looks to the rest of the field, and to Inga and Rieze especially. Gotta keep the big guy off of them.

    There's a roar of anger from under the Ultima Weapon, and Raha lashes out, his axe kicking up a wave of angry energy, looking to harass and disrupt.

Inga has posed:
Has she not been proving her words? By Bragi this man likes the sound of his own voice. Cultist, why does he call her this?

All thoughts are cut short when Ifrit appears before her, trying to burn her alive. Inga does not run. Inga /can't/ run. She lurches away from the blasts, but its her wards that help her the most. That is why she is so proficient with them. It was that, or death after death...you learn to stand and fight when you have no choice.

Inga is burned and bleeding, but still continues. Her regeneration keeps her going through more than she could ever have imagined before Gaia.

It still hurts.

But it is nothing compared to what she's already been through.

Inga raises her staff, the runes along it's length glowing with white-hot light. Ifrit is merely a distraction and she knows it. Gaius and his Weapon are the focus. That thing is preparing to take one of them, at the least, out of the world in mere seconds.

She watches, waits, then releases a powerful blast of fire and force akin to an explosion. Why not try all the elements, right?

Athela Valemore has posed:
As the war machine moves quickly to parry her flurry of strikes with inhuman position Athela realizes the tactical error she made. The Ultima Weapon was large and armored, so she had approached the fight the same as she had against the Steel Golem, which was powerful but ponderous. Though now the monstrousity has proven itself to be quick as well. She needs to tackle this threat in a different manner.

The final deflection is with enough force to skid her backwards and leave her heaving a moment from the effort. Yet with no less determination in her eyes as she looks towards the thing's.. general vicinity that Gaius had gotten into it. "I have no breath to waste on your attempts of dellusion and diatribe." Resolute may be the name of her weapon, but her fighting spirit is no less wavering.

Heels dig into the ground, bracing herself as she grips her divine blade, toughing it through the ceruleum being vented again. It matters not how much or little is said, she refuses to back down.

She sweeps low with her sword, to were it cuts a few sparks from the tip graizing the ground, and then upward in front of herself. That is not the attack though. The real danger is the aquaphilic energy released as she does so, quickly swelling up into a wave of water as it surges across the ground and then comes crashing down towards the magitek monstrousity.

Tomoe has posed:
This bird demon thing may Haunt Tomoe for a very long time as it certainly likes poking at her, there's not much she can do about it or at least how she sees it. Tomoe maybe have missed something in the chaos of the battle or Gaius has hit a point it's hard to tell but he gets a reply. She's also getting hammered by Garuda again which leaves her covered in more injuries even with her parrying some of the attacks using her shield.

"Pride in a warrior? My pride is in every soul that got the hell out of the Death Game. A lethal dream that souls seeking a night of sentiment were trapped within."

Pride? Maybe she was empty in the end? Did she really have any? Or was just going forward as she had no idea how to stop after she got out of the Death Game.

"Maybe I am just a clay doll but I have never rolled over and died for anyone General. That's one thing I do have pride in I will not Yield to you just like I did not to Heathcliff and his mad dream."

She now has out Caliburn now and it glows with a holy fire as she readies another sword art, which she will let loose when she gets in close making for the head of the Ultimate weapon trying to screw it up and go for hopefully some of it's sensing systems if she's lucky.

Krusty (1149) has posed:
    "Words unfocus you. Distract you. Kill you."

    Rieze doesn't have time to provide an active defense against Garuda's new attack. Maybe because she was talking? Who knows! The bird lady's feathers carve through the air, cutting through the Sorerer's robes and skin beneath, leaving being lines of red. She avoids getting full on impaled by any of the projectiles, but she can now feel herself affected by the painful malady of Wind Burn. An icon pops up in her view to confirm it.

    Reaching into her robes, Rieze once more produces another potion. Though this one has a pink colour to it. She takes a sip from this one, a light washing down then up her body as the persistant effect is countered.

    Hoping to work in concert with Inga, Rieze begins to spin her staff in front of her. A whirlwind begins to form just beyond it. After it has built enough strength, Rieze calls, "Turbulence." The magic gushes further as a powerful gust of wind in its own right. But aimed to combine with the blast of fire, it should hopefully feed it and result in a much greater explosion.

Zenos yae Galvus (6843) has posed:
The collision of Axe and claw ring across the battlefield again.  At this point, there was little to say between Gaius and Raha that hadn't already been said.  They were simply opposites...and right now they were fighting for the right of who ruled, and who died.  On this field of battle, their fate would be decided.

Of course, the axe dug in, but the armor was just a bit too thick on the arms.  Not for want of trying, but his attention became focused on Raha, at least for the moment. Which means, for the moment, any attack that he would receive is increased by one level, but the attacks on his protected allies will drop by a level each.  

Probably because, Inga, you worship a god.  Someone raised to despise any religions and be a secular state preeeeety much would see anyone else worshiping anything else as someone who is a cultist.  However, there are worse things to deal with, like...uh...being set on fire.  

The fire washes over the Ultima weapon, forced to bring its arm and use its shield to protect itself.  Red hot from where the flames hit it and even it's massive form was pushed back by the force of the spell.  Shaking, the ground crumbles around it as the shockwave clears it.  

"Hmph, delusion is it?  Though I will acknowledge the other.  You are one of the only people on this field of battle even willing to actually consider the points.  However, you are right...banter can wait after I have seized the day.  If you still live after, then we shall talk on this matter in full.  So, do not die...but I will hold nothing back!"

The wave of dangerous water, after using the sword dance as a cover, smashes into the chest of the Ultima weapon, forcing it back much like the fireball before it.  There is a satisfied grunt from inside the machine, as Gaius is always impressed with the power.  However, too soon the water evaporates.  

"How glib.  Your pride is meaningless, it is not even in the accomplishment itself.  You claim to be a clay doll, and claim to have never rolled over...then why do you even fight?  For the failing and corrupt city-states?  For some nebulous goal of 'keeping them free'.  From what?  A consul who undermines the authority of its rightful sovereign?  A group of pirates who can barely hold the rule of law?  Of a group of children who give their will to the capricious elementals?  To the endless and eternal Dragonsong war?!  Tch...to believe in this land...is to believe in nothing."

Tomoe goes for the thing's 'head', where it's sensors are.  The two collide with their power, as the claw of the Ultima weapon drag's itself across the blade aiming for its eyes.  The two clash for a moment, before the blade is thrown just enough off, so that it slashes across its head, but not hitting anything quite that important.  However, Tomoe's attempt to get its attention to succeed, and much like for Raha, Tomoe will take a higher potency attack, for lowering it on Athela.

"Hah!  Perhaps there is truth in those words of yours.  At least grant me the knowledge of your name.  I am Gaius van Baelsar, soon to be ruler of this failing land." He says, asking for Rieze's name in return.  The man, for all of his faults, at least tries to be formal.

The wind feeds into the fire, making the explosion bigger, and of course causing more armor to melt under their combined offensives.  However, much like before, while the weapon is thrown back from the offense, it still stands, still wields impressive strength...and the power residing in it is being fed again.

Zenos yae Galvus (6843) has posed:
The Ultima Weapon teleports away suddenly, appearing in the far back of the arena...and something happens.  The very arena changes dramatically.  The destroyed battlefield seems to fade away, as Aether itself flows wildly in the background.  The vision of the world around you fades, as it is just a single platform hovered in nothingness.  Worse than that, pieces of the machines, corpses of the beast men, and earth float around the edge of the battlefield eerily.  

Each of the Primals appear in different sections of the battlefield.  Garuda, in the center, Titan on the left, and Ifrit on the right.  Ifirt charges first, aiming to sear the battlefield with his charge, as fire explodes repeatedly in his wake.  Titan smashes his hands together, attempting to literally use the WEIGHT OF THE LAND to crush all of you, as the earth laden aether strikes out at you.  

Then finally, Garuda laughs madly...as before the end comes, she unleashes a terrible storm around her, the very air becoming hard to breathe, the wind tearing at your faces, and almost trying to throw you from the platform.  Hold on, Warriors of Light!  

You can do it!

When it all ends, the Ultima weapon is back to normal, charging at you again.  

N'raha Tia has posed:
    Talking. Why is he talking SO MUCH. SO MUCH TALKING. ALL HE DOES IS TALK.

    Oh. Oh dear. There's an... awful color rippling off of N'raha now, as the Warrior of Light takes another swipe at Ultima before... it scampers away.

    And the catman, standing in front of all his allies, toe to toe with Tomoe, simply digs his heels in.

    Fire burns his body, crisping his fur and scalding his skin.

    Earth pummels him, crushing bones and sundering his armor.
    Winds RAKE at him, raising cuts and wounds across his body.

    And then the storm's rage passes, and the cat man is... right there. RIGHT THERE, standing tall. Standing like a stone in the broiling seas, a chain in his hand, READY for the WEAPON to return.

    And he can feel the energy broiling away inside himself, inside his allies, as the Aether rolls across the battlefield. He's barely standing held up only by force of will, but.
    That chain whips out from his hand, and he lashes it around the nearest leg of the Ultima Weapon, dragging it into place, and HOLDING it. Yes, one lone catman, securing the Supreme Weapon of Allag. Or he's going to try to anyways.

    His mouth bleeds when he opens in, but there's a flat noise of rage and terrible anguish from the Warrior of Light, as he spends his last bit of energy to save his friends.

Inga has posed:
Inga is blasted in so many ways from so many directions that life just becomes chaos and pain. It's all loud noise and bright lights and wind that tosses her around like a leaf in a storm.

When it ends she is laying on her side on the hard floor, unmoving. Then she gasps a breath, her eyes snapping open. It was a close call, but she's still here, pulled back from death by the stubborn magic of the Bees.

Inga looks around to see who else still survives, and find everyone looking the worse for wear--but none more so than Raha. She directs some of her blood toward him, whispering words of healing. He thinks he's done. She watches him, and she knows it. This is a sacrifice. "Don't you dare die, Raha," she says, struggling to her feet.

She's angry now. It rolls off of her in waves. Her eyes glow with the anima she's gathering. "YOU WILL NOT KILL HIM!" she screams, and a storm of her own is unleashed. Lightning rains down, hammering at Ultima Weapon in an unrelenting barrage.

Krusty (1149) has posed:
    Rieze is a fairly formal young woman herself. And it shows as she induldges Gaius's request, even going so far as to curtsy with her free hand as she introduces herself, "Rieze. Second officer of the combat guild, D.D.D." Hopefully she didn't just kill herself with that brief interuption.

    The three primals gang up on the group. Rieze is engulfed in fire, smashed by earth and blasted by wind. By the end of it she's looking rather battered, though manages to maintain her cool composure despite the pain she's feeling.

    Athela seems to be preparing a major strike and N'Raha is attempting to help. But looking at her own status, Rieze isn't ready. She needs more time...

    Rieze lowers her staff in the direction of the Ultima Weapon, sparks once more jumping across the weapon, but this time blue in colour. Rieze moves her hand close to the staff's head, before invoking, "Arc Spell." Blue lightning begins to arc from the staff, repeatedly striking in the Ultima Weapon's direction and adding to Inga's own lightning magic as Rieze continues to channel the spell.

Athela Valemore has posed:
Athela has nothing else to say on that matter beyond what she already did. If Gaius has to constantly try to spite at them to reassure his own feeling of power, let him waste his breath on it. By this point she's almost certain he's doing it as much to convince himself of his own posturing.

That however does not lessen the clear and very real danger his engine of war presents. Especially when the images of the three Primals rematerialze and unleash a savage assault upon them all. Tomoe has supporting her the entire fight, and now N'Raha as well takes the front in defiance of the man's assault. While Inga and Rieze continue their own support. She could not ask for more valiant allies to be facing such a tremendous foe with.

She buckles down as well to weather out the assault. Flames roar and burn as the earth itself thrashes in rage, winds whipping violently through her red mane of hair and weathered cloak flapping behind her. For a moment she digs her sword into the ground, using it to keep herself from being knocked off her feet as she's battered by the elemental barrage. Pain stings but her courage holds stronger.

The turmoil of the assault finally dies down, and Raha makes the first move to try and put their foe off balance. She pulls Resolute Blade from the ground and as she resumes her grip the divine sword starts to glow brightly, and she leaps into action with a powerful burst of aquamancy to launch her. The Swords of Justice never back down, and neither does their Champion.

Like out of a catapult she hurtles arcing through the air, enervated by courage and determination, to bring her blessed blade crushing down upon the formidable warmachine with all her valiant fighting spirit!

Tomoe has posed:
Tomoe has endured a lot in her life, and honestly, she's been dead technically once, if not for Kliens being a pack rat and hanging on to a certain item? Her life would have ended on floor Seventy-Five against the Skull Reaper. Gaius has some very legitimate comebacks to Tomoe, unlike the last wordy sorts she fought. He was at least serving something that was not an aberration to life itself.

"I'm pretty screwed up and ...."

She does not say a thing as the attacks come Tomoe body glows with a golden light she chants a spell and keeps her gear ready as the ultimate weapon counter attack.

The storm comes and Tomoe's form is leigtly glowing she endure the storm with superhuman levels of endurance while she's battered by the sort of damage that could drop an Elite out right she keeps going and comes out the other side, she's clearly in pain but she's still standing and her her weapon in hand.

"Maybe so but do you not see me standing here before you General? I'm not done yet and I am Tomoe the Iron Lily."

She channels the sword as she knows the blade is glowing she's got a plan and then she launches.

"Holy Annihilation!"

She will dive bomb at the ultimate weapon with the burning holy blade intending to Cleave all the way down the form of the Ultima Weapon. She is not holding back anything today.

Zenos yae Galvus (6843) has posed:
As things come to their...conclusion, all of the stops are withdrawn.  Raha, having given it all to defend his allies from a much more fierce attack comes out of the hell that is the elements, eyes blazing.  He would not be so easily stopped...he would not be conquered.  

The chain shoots out towards the machine, wrapping around it and holding it still. Struggling, from such a simple maneuver, the machine bursts again, trying to throw it off as Gaius is dumbfounded.  "How?!" followed with, "I seem to have underestimated your determination, Warrior of Light...but NO LONGER!"

"You have no power to command anything, witch!" Gaius booms at her, as the massive and now nearly overflowing with aether machine vibrates with power.  "Beg your gods, then, if they can to save you...but here, with the strength of men, nothing can or will save you!  Now fall!"

The storm of power flows at the Ultima weapon, bracing against it, the power of it was enough to force it back.  "Ugh...to be pressed like this, you decry the strength of men and look at you all.." However, he comes out of the other side, armor damaged, body sparking, but the Ultima weapon not defeated.  

"Very well, I wish our meeting was under better circumstances," Gaius says to her, but to be fair.  He enjoys this as much as the next man with nearly ultimate power.  The two square off with each other, but there is one thing he is impressed with.  The impeccable manners, even on the battlefield, she shows.  

The lighting crashes against the machine again, arcing from its form.  Tracing across its figures and even across its damaged parts.  Still, the thing stands, in defiance of everything else.  Staring down at you with its baleful light.

The two had expended all of the words they could at each other, they had shouted, debated, fought with vicious reprisals...at this point.  There is nothing left.  They all have nothing left to give, nothing left to talk about at this moment.  It was victory, or death...for either of them.  

The Sword skills of Athela were amazing, but to discount Gaius is also folly.  He put everything into the machine, including a series of defensive abilities.  Shields, elemental dampeners, ablative armor and more.  It all is used against the last of the most dangerous attacks being leveled at him.  The blade finds where it needs to land, only for the LAST DITCH defense to spring up.  The blade sent just barely off course, but still cutting through critical equipment, causing a nice blast off of its right side.  The arena behind it is covered in the sword's swing, if anything was there, it would be cut in half.  

"What good is standing before me...if you have no will to back it up.  You simply sound like you are looking for a place to die!  Have you finally come to admit your nihilistic nature?  Or do you think simply 'standing' before me means anything if you know you will die?  Or if your actions have no meaning?  Or if simply your pride amounts to /nothing/?!"

Still, that was real strength behind the blade.  The only power channeling it.  However, like before the final defenses were up, trying to stave off defeat for what would come next.  To her credit, the attack tore through the last few remaining defenses.

Zenos yae Galvus (6843) has posed:
However, it remained standing.  The moment in Inga's vision came to be.  Rearing back, the heart of Sabik glowed menacingly again, as symbols in the floor glowed in arcane patterns.  Their meaning almost lost to history, but in five circles around a center sixth circle appeared...one for each of you.

Without warning, Tomoe would be dragged towards the first orb.  Once there, slowly, it would rise into the sky, as Energy started to crush down at her.  The sphere in the middle glowed with a red light, as the very life energy of its sacrifice would be used to hurt everyone else.  

This was the end...it would continue until each of you suffered this fate...unless you killed it first.

Krusty (1149) has posed:
    This was it. This is the end. Death comes for them all.

    Rieze smiles just a little. Seeing the charging meter on the edge of her vision. Robust Battery has reached its critical point. Rieze takes in a deep breath...

    "Super Maximize!" A golden aura of energy completely covers Rieze, her hair rising to float in the air as she boosts her damage output. But she doesn't finish there.

    "Enhanced Code! Cyan flames burst from a circle at Rieze's feet, joining the existing aura as she further enhances her magic.

    Rieze raises her staff high into the sky, obsidian energy beginning to gather into a large sphere above her. The vortex of magic quickly grows in size as Rieze struggles to channel it, the strain showing on her face.

    Finally she reaches the end of the casting time, the spell ready. Rieze's eyes stare cooly towards the cockpit of the Ultima Weapon, before she simply states, "Disintegrate."

    There is no massive burst of power streaking across the battlefield. No roaring rush of energy. The gathered magic compresses into a tight beams, silently lancing towards the Ultima Weapon's center mass. As it hits, it doesn't explode, or pierce through. Instead the energy begins to coat the weapon's frame, spreading further and further from the impact point, trying to tear the machine apart as it does so.

N'raha Tia has posed:
    The energy cannons are prepped, the Ultima Weapon is doing it's last stand and Raha is... still on his feet. The Miqo'te staggers up to his feet, only to be rocked by the backwash of that towering plasma cannon, his grip faltering on his axe... But then more. More attacks come blistering past him, this time from Rieze...

    Was that it? Did they pull it off? Could it be?

Inga has posed:
The moment from her vision begins...but fate is not fixed. There were many possibilities, and Tomoe escapes that particular fate.

But Gaius will not escape his.

It all seems to happen in slow motion now, as the others lay into the Ultima weapon with all they've got. Inga limps toward N'Raha. It's almost over.

Tomoe has posed:
Tomoe has drawn a heck of a lot of fury here, but that is her job to take hits for other to endure pain so others do not have to. Every time she loses part of a party she's working with she will blame herself, part of herself withers. She is not unstoppable she knows this well she's tasted the dirt more times than she could count.

Yet every single time she got back up. This is one of those times she keeps standing and she pops every defence ability she has, all of them slamming her shield into the ground two prongs flip out holding it in place. She's a bulwark for a brief moment she is the indomitable Unbroken Knight.

"General, you are formidable and had we met differently...it could have been different."

The act of fighting off that attack has weakened her and she's hanging on now, running on fumes and she knows it. The moment of being that seemingly impossible knight has passed, but she has some fight left in her she chants again runes dancing about her body letting loose a blast of fire at the Ulitmate weapon, it may not be needed but against something like that she fears it getting back up.

Athela Valemore has posed:
Disregard? Quite the opposite. After what they had already seen with this machine's defenses Athela knew she could not hold anything else back. So she didn't. The defenses may dull and deflect her blows, but it meant there was less to stand in the way of the others fighting alongside her. And eventually, while the attack is held back, Resolute Blade still finds some purchase in the machine's metal form, cutting deep into it's construction before she finally is forced back from the assault. She takes a few hops back after that, knowing being in the close proximity of the Ultima Weapon has also proven to not be stragetic.

At the constant spewing of words from the man in control of it she just shakes her head. "Perhaps if you didn't immeadiately disregard every view that is not your own as wrong, you would understand why we continue to fight your twisted creation. But there is no success in trying to make a blind man see when he wishes not to."

Still a woman of few words, at least compared to thers present. Few but to the point. With nothing else to say she digs in, weapon still at the ready in spite of exhaustion, and readies to continue. The aetheric force rattles against her, forcing her expression to grit into another scowl, feeling it dig into her tired form. She goes to one knee with a growl, but braces herself and continues to refuse to give in so easily.

Zenos yae Galvus (6843) has posed:
The beam of PURE HATEFUL ENERGY hits the center of mass of the Ultima Weapon, sparking across the heart of Sabik, the crystal that held it together was starting to shatter.  The entire thing shakes like a load bearing boss.  The crystal continues to shatter as the thing looks like all of the stored aetheric energy is about to be released at once.  

"NO!  How are you doing this!?" Gaius says as the Ultima weapon starts to shake apart.  The back of the machine opens, as the Golden Garlean is forced from it as it continued to shake dangerous...

"And so...my conquest ends, Cid.  In smoke...and ashes."

There was little left to say at this point, he could not escape the explosion, little more than you could.  There is a massive explosion that easily covers the entire platform.  The light of Ultima's explosion was brighter than any other.  For a moment it was like being swallowed by the sun.  However...

When it clears, you remain.  Battered but not broken, hale, but probably not quite whole.  There is no music that plays, of course...no victory fanfare that happens...and there is no sign of the body of Gaius.  Nothing but the tattered remains of the red overcoat, and bits of blood.  

No that's a lie, there is.  There is a victory song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMNRPmX5Eng&t=4s.  Don't forget to make your poses.

However, as the view of the battle can almost be seen by overhead...the view of the story comes to an end.  You will find yourselves once more back in your seats.  Perhaps it was all a daydream, but like before...oh so vivid.  The Bard, finally done, takes a stand, and bows, to a clapping audience.

They ask for more, they cry out for it, but he holds a hand out gently and speaks, "Ah...but all stories must come to an end.  This tale has concluded...but I do not think the story of the Warriors of Light has quite reached its end." he says, with a knowing smile.  

"Good night, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your ears," and without another word, the bard slowly takes his leave.  

Achievement get: Ultimatum.

Krusty (1149) has posed:
    Rieze can't help but feel a little sorry for Gaius as the Ultima Weapon errupts into a brilliant light.

    Rieze lowers her arm after shielding her eyes from bright explosion. Seeing the Ultima Weapon gone, and Gaius along with it, she lets out the breath she had been holding. Satisfied with a well fought battle, Rieze casually flips some of her hair.

    Rieze nods along approvingly as the Minstrel finishes the final ballad. Very entertaining, as evidenced by the small smile she's wearing on her face.

Inga has posed:
Inga finds herself clapping, and is surprised to find tears in her eyes. She frowns slightly, shaking her head. She just closes her eyes as she works at getting her mind back into the here and now.

Athela Valemore has posed:
... But in the end there is no more needing to fight. Athela pushes herself back to her feet, Resolute Blade gleaming as she shifts her other arm to make her cloak flutter out. It looks a little flashy, even if it's just so she can sheath the sword so it's unusual shape doesn't snag on the cloth. That counts as a Victory Pose, right?

And she's clapping along with the rest of the crowd as the entire story is brought to the end. It may be embellish as Raha claims, but that doesn't make it any less fantastic of an experience.

And a bit better understanding of why this world is in the current state of affair it is, embellished or not.

N'raha Tia has posed:
    Raha just... slumps forward on his chair, nearly spilling his beer as he's released from the trance. His ears wilt, his body aches, his mind is fuzzy from more than just the booze...
    But he's alive. And he's upright. There's a click of his teeth, and he grumbles a bit, tail lashing tiredly. "So much of that... wrong, but..."

    "It's hard to argue with the man telling the story while he's telling it."

Tomoe has posed:
Tomoe stand back as the Ultima weapon goes up, she she feels a pang of sympathy for Gaius, hge belived in his path he was opf the mind of many here the Primas had to be stopepd but it was how. Tomoe knew about the City States but the people there needed to in the end sort themselves out for the most part she will pause in these thoughts as the soing plays? She feels an urge to strike a pose which she gives into and make one hell of a pose, she jumps rather excitedly for a moment she's clealrly happy about this turn of affairs.

"Fairwell Bard."

She looks to the others for a moment and takes a deep breath.

"He could do far worse things with his talents...that man is one hell of a Bard."

Inga has posed:
Inga shakes her head. Those stories take a lot out of Raha.

Inga has tacos, this time. They're hot and everything. She just pulls out one for each of them from her bag and passes them out. "Let him embellish if he wishes. You know how it happened...and the end was the same."

Athela Valemore has posed:
"Inga is correct." Athela reachs over to give Raha's shoulder a pat. "After all, it was a *story*, not a historical report. What is important is he spreads the word of what others have fought for, embellished or not." Then she accepts one of the offered tacos. "Once again, thank you for your post action provisions milady."

N'raha Tia has posed:
    N'raha's taco has already vanished, somehow. He's a hungry, tired, grouchy cat now.

    "Bluh. Thanks Inga. You're a life-saver, like usual."

Inga has posed:
Inga smiles softly and nods to them. You are welcome.

Group mom, in action.